Garmin Forerunner 910xt Review


Garmin 910xt


Garmin Forerunner 910XT – a runners dream.

Garmin pulled out all the stops with their new Garmin forerunner 910XT watch or should I say wrist computer.  While the watch is a little big, this new Forerunner is packed with functions that will make running with it a dream come true.  Now of course there are certainly competitors in the market of GPS enabled wrist watches including Polar, Timex and Suunto, but Garmin seems to have nailed it.

The first thing that is rather unique with the 910xt is its rechargeable battery connections.  There are two connectors on the back of the watch that are used for charging.  An accompanying charger clamp connects to these almost like a cloths pin.  The Garman 910XT is designed to last about 20 hours on a full charge using the GPS, which is plenty for just about anything up to about 50 miles.  Well the really fast guys can do 100 miles under 20 hours, but hey last time I tried one of those it took me 29+ hours, so it will not last long enough for me. 🙂

Garmin Forerunner 910xt Charging ClampThe Wall charger unit comes with three different types of plug inserts including US, Euro, and UK, so even traveling overseas, you should have luck charging the unit.

After using the Forerunner 910xt now a few times, I have found a few things that I really like.  The watch has two types of alerts (Vibration/Sound).  I find the vibration is more useful than the sound sound.  This can allow you to wear headphones and still know when a distance or time interval has been reached.  You can still have both audio and vibration alerts though.  I have a vibration alert for distance and an audio alert for time.

Don’t get the Forerunner if you plan on using it as a watch.  With it’s limited battery life, it isn’t really suited for this.  You may want to opt for the Polar RCX5 with the optional GPS sensor or armband.

One thing I found sort of annoying is the watch isn’t always that accurate when looking at your pace.  The distance seems accurate, but the pace calculation seems off.  I think Garmin needs some type of smoothing algorithm so that your displayed pace doesn’t jump around as much.  Garmin just released a new patch, 2.5 that hopefully should fix some of the pacing issues.  I haven’t installed it yet to test out.

Run/Walk Function

A new feature added to the Garmin Forerunner 910XT is the Run/Walk functionality.  Many people are using this type of workout in their training for endurance events as well as people who may be new to running in general.  It’s sort of like a slow fartlek workout.  In general the watch is programed to allow a user to setup how much time there is between walking and running.  An example might be run for 5 minutes and walk for 1. The watch manages all this information and provides alerts when it is time to slow down or speed up.

ANT wireless compatibility

Garmin’s ANT wireless compatibility allows the user to upload data from the watch to a computer wirelessly.  The setup software wasn’t as seemless as I would have thought it should be, but I was able to install it.  I thought thequick start manual was a little lacking and could have including more information.  The package comes with about 8-9 manuals all in different languages.

Heart Rate Monitor

The 910XT comes with well designed heart rate monitor strap that I found it quite comfortable.  Unlike some of the older Polar straps that you had to send in, the Garmin Performance HR strap has a replaceable battery.

Watch Displays

The watch has up to 4 different window slots to display information and up to 4 different scroll through displays.  Each window slot can display anything from distance to time to heart rate.  For me I found that a 2 window setup per display was the easiest to see rather than the 3 or 4.

Forerunner 305 vs Forerunner 910XT

Some of the differences between the Forerunner 310xt and the Forerunner 305 include much longer battery life, increased functionality and versatility more (Multi-sport/Cross training Options)  The heartrate monitor only pairs up with the watch, so if there are multiple Garmin users around, you don’t have to worry about picking up another signal.  The watch cradle has improved over the 305.  There is a charge indicator and the 910xt has a smaller profile.  It also seems to pick up satellites faster.

Features & Benefits

Heart rate monitor: yes – With the purchase of the $499 model
Bike speed/cadence sensor: yes (optional)
Foot pod: yes (optional)
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer): yes
Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data): yes
Virtual Partner® (train against a digital person): yes
Virtual Racer™ (compete against other activities): yes
Courses (compete against previous activities): yes
Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed): yes
Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap): yes
Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout): yes
Multi-sport (changes sport mode with a press of a button): yes
Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts): yes
Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace): yes (for advanced workouts only)
Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal): yes
Vibration alert: (choose between alert tones and/or vibration alert): yes
Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals): yes
Heart rate-based calorie computation: yes
Swim metrics (stroke type, stroke count and pool lengths): yes
Training Effect (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness): yes
Customizable screen(s): yes
Barometric altimeter: yes
Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units): no
Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT+™-enabled power meters): yes (records data approx. 1 per second)
Temperature (displays and records temperature while you ride): no
Shock Resistant: yes
Sport watch: no
Additional: Garmin Connect is compatible with Windows® XP or newer and PowerPC and Intel-based Mac running OS 10.4 or later with Safari.

Overall Conclusion

Runners should love this new watch, but it may be overkill for them since it does so much more than is needed.

The Plus Side

  • Vibration alerts (Sometimes in race situations or training it can be hard to hear an alert, that isn’t the case with the vibration)
  • Excellent Heart Rate Monitor Strap
  • Large watch face
  • Ability to program the watch and change the various displays

The Downside

  • Cost (at a retail price of $399.99 w/o HRM; $449.99 w/HRM it is quite expensive)
  • Don’t expect to use your Forerunner 910XT as a watch.  (With low battery life and no power saver mode, it just doesn’t fit the bill)
  • The Pace field could be bigger (In some situations it is hard to see)

You can pickup your Garmin Forerunner 910XT directly from Garmin or the many places that the Garmin products are sold.

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About Author

Tom Crandall

Totally into multi-sports including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running skating and movement in general. Love to trail run and hang outdoors.

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